Personal Identity in an Organized Parcel
Smart (Brian)
Source: Philosophical Studies: Vol. 24, No. 6 (Nov., 1973), pp. 420-423
Paper - Abstract

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  1. One of the most central and yet problematic assertions in "Wiggins (David) - Identity & Spatio-temporal Continuity" (1967) is this:
      It would be better, after a conceptual analysis of the essential and characteristic vital functions, to analyse person in such a way that coincidence under the concept person logically required the continuance in one organized parcel of all that was causally sufficient and causally necessary to the continuance of essential and characteristic functioning, no autonomously sufficient part achieving autonomous and functionally separate existence (p. 55, Wiggins's italics.)
  2. My purpose here is to examine Sydney Shoemaker's ingenious criticism of this requirement (in "Shoemaker (Sydney) - Wiggins on Identity").
  3. Shoemaker asks us to imagine that A's brain is divided into two hemispheres which alternate in controlling bodily functions and in being the seat of memory and other mental capacities. […]
  4. I shall now attempt to show that Shoemaker's argument misses its target since continuance in one organized parcel does not require the retention of the same parts or of the same matter, whether the identity in question is that of a person or of an ordinary material object.
  5. To see this we must closely scrutinize the descriptions of the various stages of the transplants1.
  6. […]
  7. I conclude that Shoemaker's putative counter-example involves the continuance of an organized parcel after all: it changes its parts just like the human body changing all of its molecules over a seven-year period or the ship of Theseus2 having all of its old planks replaced by new ones over a similar period of time; in the case of A's brain fewer parts are involved.

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